THE NIGHT STRANGERS by Chris Bohjalian
“My mother used to talk about passages and, once in a while, about ordeals. We all have them; we are all shaped by them. She thought the key was to find the healing in the hurt.”
Review by Eleanor Bukowsky В (OCT 8, 2011)
In Chris Bohjalian’s The Night Strangers, Chip Linton is a forty-year-old commercial airline pilot who is traumatized when, through no fault of his own, one of his regional planes goes down in Lake Champlain. In the aftermath of the accident, Chip, Emily, and their ten-year-old twin daughters, Hallie and Garnet, move from Pennsylvania to an isolated three-story Victorian near Bethel, New Hampshire, in the scenic White Mountains. Emily resumes her career as a lawyer, the kids enroll in the local school, and Chip becomes a do-it-yourselfer, replacing wallpaper, painting, and doing carpentry around the rickety old house.
Unfortunately, Chip is an emotional wreck who sees a psychiatrist to treat his depression, guilt, and anxiety. He has upsetting flashbacks and vivid nightmares and knows that his career in aviation is most likely over. Although Chip adores Emily and his daughters, they are not enough for him. He cannot help but mourn the loss of his livelihood.
The Lintons soon have concrete reasons to regret their move to Northern New England. There is something creepy going on in this town. The place is filled with greenhouses. Various herbalists and botanists grow exotic plants, talk like aging hippies, and constantly bring over homemade food that they foist on the Linton family. In addition, it is possible that the Linton house, which was once the scene of an untimely and unnatural death, may be haunted. If Chip was teetering on the brink of madness before he moved to New Hampshire, living here may very well push him over the edge. The Night Strangers is a tale of psychological horror in which Chip and Emily gradually suspect that when they relocated, they may have jumped from the frying pan into the fire. Chip starts having visions and hearing voices; his family is also under threat from others who are up to no good. How will the Lintons cope with the various forces threatening to tear them apart?
Chris Bohjalian has always been an outstanding descriptive writer who uses setting brilliantly. He has a gift for creating sympathetic characters with whom the reader can readily identify. This time, alas, he may have bitten off more than he can chew. Chris’s mental deterioration alone would have been a strong enough centerpiece to this book. Even adding a haunted house into the mix might work. However, Bohjalian overreaches when he veers too far into Stephen King and Ira Levin territory. He concocts an outlandish (yet oddly predictable) plot that throws the book seriously out of balance. What should have been a compelling narrative about the demons that inhabit our minds becomes, quite literally, a story about evil incarnate. Still, Bohjalian creates readable dialogue, brings Chip, Emily, and their girls to life, and engages our interest in the fate of his protagonists. In spite of ourselves, we hold our breaths, wondering whether this horribly tormented husband, wife, and two children will ever reacquire the peace of mind that they once took for granted.
|AMAZON READER RATING:||from 252 readers|
|PUBLISHER:||Crown (October 4, 2011)|
|AVAILABLE AS A KINDLE BOOK?||YES! Start Reading Now!|
|AUTHOR WEBSITE:||Chris Bohjalian|
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